Da Nang Damned! (Author Interview)

“Da Nang Damned!’ is the 1st book in your O’Neil - Troutman action-adventure series.  Do you recommend reading the books in order or are they all standalone?

No, each book stands on its own, as the main storyline is different in each book. There may be a reference or two to events that occur in “Da Nang Damned!” however, these don’t interrupt the storyline.
I actually intended, to only write one book, it was readers’ positive comments after reading “Da Nang Damned!” that persuaded me to turn it into a series.

What kind of character is O’Neil?

Rick O’Neil is the kind of person we all strive to be. He’s honest, loyal, and although conflicted over events and mistakes he has made is determined to do the right thing.
Rick is by nature stoic and someone who keeps his emotions bottled up tight. This is one of his strengths, and a major weakness, as Rick tends to shut out those he loves.
In creating the two main characters Rick and Ted, I wanted to have two men who although polar opposites, form a strong bond of friendship. I think the differences between Rick and Ted make for a more interesting story.

You pulled a lot from your personal experiences.  Tell us a little about that.

Well, I was always told to write about what you know. My experiences in Vietnam and how returning veterans were stereotyped in the media and Hollywood have scarred a lot of veterans. Each Vietnam veteran has been affected differently and I tried to reflect that in my book.

 Vietnam serves as a backdrop to the story. The book isn’t so much about the war as the effects of the war on the four main characters.

I guess you could say writing “Da Nang Damned!” has been a sort of therapy for me. In 2014, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. I was told the cancer was caused by Agent Orange. Agent Orange is a toxic chemical that was sprayed from planes over Vietnamese jungles in an effort to kill the vegetation. American servicemen and Vietnamese were exposed to this defoliant. Currently, there are fourteen diseases ranging from cancers to Parkinson’s which are caused by exposure to Agent Orange. I say it took me fifty years to write “Da Nang Damned!” and in a way, that is true. I always wanted to write a novel and it was the idea that even after all those years that Vietnam was still playing havoc with my life that compelled me to write.

I also lived in northern New Hampshire, so I’m familiar with the area, the lakes, towns, and mountains. Because New Hampshire and Canada share a common border, and because much of the border is remote and heavily wooded it makes a great backdrop for my stories, opening up a lot of possibilities.

The image on the back of the book of the airplane, does it hold any specific meaning?

Yes and thanks for asking, the photo is one I took on January 18, 1968, as we were boarding a Navy C-141 at Quonset Point, Rhode Island. It was a cold, blustery, snowy morning. Twenty-six hours later, we would land in Da Nang, Vietnam and walk out into a hot, steaming airfield tarmac. It was quite a shock.

I was originally going to use the photo of the plane for the cover but opted instead for the map of Vietnam.

You donate a portion of the profits to veteran charities.  That’s amazing.  Your readers can also donate directly.  What are the top two charities you would like to mention here?

Right now, I am donating a portion of my books’ profits to a local organization called the Carroll County Veterans Independence Project. This project is one of the first in the nation whose goal is to provide housing and training to returning veterans and assist them in transitioning back to civilian life. Currently, CCVIP is searching for a suitable facility to house and train the veterans. For more information, you can visit carrollcountyvip.org.

Will there be a third book or another series started?

I just finished and published on Amazon, “Night Whisperers!” This book takes place in 1972. A number of readers asked that I write a book about how the guys coped with all the turmoil in the United States after returning home. “Da Nang Damned!” and “Death Is Never Pretty!” focuses on the present day. Night Whisperers!, fills in the gap between the men’s Vietnam tour and the present and deals with how Rick and Ted adjust to civilian life and the challenges they faced. Here is a brief description:

“After Vietnam, Rick was eager to forget about what he’d seen on the battlefield and go back to living a normal life. But upon returning home, he soon discovers it isn’t that simple. Haunted by the images of the past, and the incessant voices he calls the ‘Night Whisperers’, the memories of war color his every waking moment. With his marriage crumbling and his anger rising, Rick takes to the road in search of answers.”

I have at least one more book planned in the series and I am also working on a Western about an older Texas Ranger.

How can readers discover more about you and your work?  

To learn more about my books and to purchase one they can go to https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B075Q3SL3X. Readers can also visit my Facebook Page @ Peter A. Turner - Author.